East Forsyth first baseman Xavier Isaac didn’t have to wait too long to hear his name called Sunday night in the Major League Baseball draft.
Projected as a second- to fourth-round pick by most draft analysts, Isaac was selected in the first round (29th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays.
“This is one of the biggest surprises in the first round, especially coming from the Rays, who love to focus on up-the-middle position players who have positional flexibility as they develop in pro ball,” wrote ESPN.com’s Dave Schoenfield. “Isaac was 95th on (ESPN analyst Kiley McDaniel’s) board, so it feels like a reach, but one thing we’ve learned: Don’t second-guess the Rays.”
As a senior this season, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-handed hitter batted .578 with 12 home runs, six doubles, two triples and 26 RBI. Isaac scored 36 runs for an East Forsyth team that went 18-9 and reached the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs.
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The one question mark on Isaac’s resumé is that a broken left fibula ended his junior season after six games and prevented him from playing against the nation’s best prospects in the summer of 2021.
Isaac has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Florida, but that doesn’t preclude him from signing with the Rays. Players selected in the draft have until Aug. 1 to sign a contract. If they do not sign, they are not eligible to be drafted again until after they have completed three seasons at a four-year college or two seasons at a junior college.
Isaac may have been a surprise first-round pick but he was far from an unknown nationally. He was the first East Forsyth baseball player to be named a high school All-American and was a first-team selection by MaxPreps, Collegiate Baseball and Prep Baseball Report. The American Baseball Coaches Association made Isaac a second-team selection.
East Carolina pitcher Carson Whisenhunt, a Davie County alumnus, was selected in the second round (66th overall) by the San Francisco Giants. Whisenhunt, 21, was suspended by the NCAA for the 2022 college season after testing positive for a banned substance found in a nutritional supplement.
After not being able to pitch for East Carolina’s Super Regional team, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-hander pitched this summer for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League, going 1-3 with a 7.87 ERA. Whisenhunt struck out 21 and walked six in 16 innings before leaving the wood-bat summer league team to focus on preparing for the draft.
If Whisenhunt does not sign with the Giants, he could return to ECU or enter the transfer portal and pitch at another school in 2023 before re-entering the draft.